Mas (farmhouse)

20. November 2006 American, West Village + TriBeCa 0

39 Downing Street off Bedford
about $255 for four, with several drinks, without tip
♥ ♥ ♥

I reserved the bar for four people at 7:30pm and because it was before prime dinner time, we were seated right away even though it was a Friday night. We sat elbow to elbow, looked at each other via the mirror behind the bar and passed our plates to one another to share.

The people behind Mas pay attention to details most New York restaurants forget about these days. I couldn’t help but ooh and aah at everything. I loved the Red Berry Dinnerware from England, the knives with pearl handles and the Terrazzo placemats. A skewer stick holding a sliced lemon made squeezing it in my basil and strawberry cocktail easier. And you know how else you can score a point with me? Have some hooks under the bar for my purse! It’s surprising how only a few bars in the city think of doing this. Every time I brush my hand under the bar, I want to feel a hook I can use, not old gum. The olive walls and warm lighting made the space cozy even though an entire glass wall exposed guests to the street traffic of the West Village.

We started with wahoo, or ono, sashimi in olive oil, cilantro and lime. The Portuguese sardines were served with a Parmesan cheese sablé cracker, reportedly made in-house, and caramelized onions, both of which controlled the fishy taste. While some of us enjoyed the Maine lobster and the fresh oysters and scallops, I split the $36 braised pork belly in a cider reduction sauce served with puréed apple and cabbage. Cranberry beans, which are only named for their red speckles, accompanied the dish and gave it a heartier and nuttier taste. To cap the bill at $200, we ordered and devoured the gooseberries and fig in hibiscus soup and the yogurt panna cotta with grape juice and apricots.

The staff seem knowledgable without being hokey. Our bartender was extra nice. He poured us a glass of an Alsace dry reisling to match our fish appetizers from the goodness of his heart. When one of us expressed an interest in tasting some whites with his dinner, he served three different types in small parts, which included one from Reuilly, but only charged for one glass.

Chef Galen Zamarra’s experiences with David Bouley and Alain Passard probably defined him as a chef, but Mas is where he proudly shows off the skills he learned. Mas, or French for farmhouse, was over my budget, but it was also a feast to my design sensibilities. Mas also means more in Spanish and after my first visit, I wanted more. If you want to impress or be impressed, Mas is the way to go.